The idea of massively parallel atomic probe arrays has been around for decades, but can the tip speed, durability and finished results be scaled commercially?
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If so, advantages over electron beam methods, especially in semiconductor manufacture, may be worth the efforts – ambient versus vacuum atmosphere, 2D transistors quality improvements improving flow of electrons at the intersection of metal and the 2D substrate, easily image the 2D semiconductor and then pattern the electrodes where desired, lower operational costs, reduced power consumption, and so forth.
– Technological highlights and market outlook of thermal scanning probe lithography (tSPL) as a mean to semiconductor miniaturization
– Insight into the role of tSPL process in diverse industry sectors, including electronics and optoelectronics; chemistry, biochemistry and healthcare; sensors and actuators; energy; and fabrication of 3D structures on transparent substrates etc.
– Summary of lithographic processes for creating electronic features using deposition technologies for ultrathin films
– An assessment of current trends, technology status, strengths and drawbacks, and emerging applications of tSPL at the industrial level
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New generations of electronic products, such as smartphones and wearable devices, are being confined in smaller and thinner packages and, consequently, integrated circuits (IC) are also becoming smaller in size while supporting a larger number of transistors to provide a greater number of features.
Continuing the process of miniaturization, the semiconductor industry is currently introducing integrated circuits based on transistors with 10 nm-node technology and below. A node is defined as half the distance between two identical features in adjacent transistors (also known as the IC half-pitch).
According to the latest International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), issued in 2015, the target node range for logic devices reached 10-11 nanometers in 2017. These ICs are currently being fabricated by Samsung Electronics (Suwon, South Korea) and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMCO – Hsinchu, Taiwan) using a FinFET (FinFET is the acronym for Fin Field-effect Transistor) configuration. FinFET is a non-planar (i.e., three-dimensional) field effect transistor.
The next node, which started to be mass-produced in 2018, is 7-8 nm and is likely based on a LGAA (Lateral Gate All-around) configuration. By 2021, logic devices at the 5-6 nm nodes are projected to enter the market, and by then VGAA (Vertical Gate All-around) technology will be required to manufacture these devices.
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LGAA and VGAA configurations are based on the use of horizontal and vertical nanowire arrays, respectively. Nanowires for LGAA transistors are being produced using top-down methods, whereas vertical nanowires for VGAA devices are being created using bottom-up techniques.
Therefore, as companies switch to the fabrication of devices below the 10-nm node, traditional processes used in semiconductor manufacturing will be gradually replaced by fabrication methods based on the utilization of nanostructures, such as nanowires and nanofilms, as well as processes that manipulate materials at the atomic and molecular scale.